Virtual Owl Pellets (file to share)

November 19, 2012

Virtual Owl Pellets (file to share)

November 19, 2012
Hi!! I want to wish a happy vacation to everyone who is out for the holiday this week! And to the others still in school, I hope you have a lot of fun with your students this week! 
We’re in until Wednesday and I’m expecting the holiday excitement to be picking up steam quickly. So. What best to do with a roomful of 5th graders anxiously anticipating a four day weekend?? Dissect owl pellets!!! (At least I hope that’s the answer).
I just adore science (you guys know I love raising salmon each year and I’m nuts about our ecosystem bottles). But owl pellets? I have to admit, I’ve always thought “ew”. But the opportunity came up and I didn’t want my students to miss the chance.
So, on Tuesday, we will all be dissecting owl pellets for the first time!
In preparation for the dissection, I headed to my trusty MacBook to learn out everything I could…and find something to help my students build some background.
Well, turns out there is a very cool site where you can dissect an owl pellet virtually (ah, the cleanliness of the Internet!). I knew it would be PERFECT for students who were already feeling squeamish…not to mention my newcomer ELL students, who would need some great visuals to know what to expect.
The website? 
It’s called KidWings and it is excellent! There’s a page to dissect a pellet virtually (this was a HIT with my 5th graders). As the students place the bones on the chart, a computer voice reads the name of each bone…I had a blast watching my students dissect, sort, and repeat those bone names!
But of course, being the mean teacher I am, I made them do some reading and discussion before virtually dissecting.
Because this website also has some nice reading about owl pellets…how they form, what they are made of, why they are important…
I whipped up a quick paper to accompany this reading…
…so my students would be armed with the basic info. before dissecting. Virtually. Which they loved!

We are now very excited and ready for the real dissection on Tuesday! And I will have some more files to share after we finish.

For now, if you’d like to grab the sheet feature above, please click here for the direct download.

Have you ever dissected owl pellets before? Or do you have a favorite science project to share? Perhaps you are on break and not really feeling all dissect-y! No worries, I understand! 🙂

Font and Graphics by Miss Tiina at


  • Diane R November 19, 2012 at 1:01 am

    I don't teach science, but I remember one year when I had a hoarding student. During fifth grade conferences, it came to my attention that this student kept things under his pillow, including his fourth grade owl pellet. So… yeah.

    Fifth in the Middle

  • Anonymous November 19, 2012 at 1:39 am

    I am a 3rd grade teacher and we dissect owl pellets as part of our Human Body science unit. The Human Body is also covered in 5th grade. I don't particualarly like the smell of the owl pellets, but the students LOVE being able to see what they can find. One bit of advice, make sure you soak the owl pellets overnight before you pass them out. It helps loosen up the hair so the students will have an easier time. It can be rather messy, so you may want to lay down newspaper or something like that over your tables as well. It'll be a lot of fun for you students! Good luck! 🙂

    PS: I can't wait to see what other things you share with this unit. I love the file you posted and will definitely use it when we get to this unit later this year. 🙂


  • Teacher and Life Long Learner November 19, 2012 at 1:43 am

    THANKS for the freebie and the site recommendation. We are doing this -the real thing- in a few weeks! Smiles and stop by anytime!

  • Emily November 19, 2012 at 1:56 am

    Thank you! Last year I tackled owl pellets this with my class and they loved it. This year I used the owl pellets as an incentive to raise money for our classroom (field trip and enrichment) and they just raised enough last week. Now I have to order them…

    Just an FYI – they stink! We did it outside on butcher paper with parent helpers using squirt bottles to soften them up. We also used popsicle sticks, opened paper clips, and toothpicks to help break them a part. I didn't have any tweezers.

  • Mrs. Tatebe-Miller November 19, 2012 at 3:21 am

    I attempted owl pellets last week with my second graders. Oh boy what an experience! I had some students get sick because of the smell. I didn't think it was that bad. We ordered ours from I liked the bone chart that came with the kit. It was interesting to see what the owl ate. Good luck with this project this week and as always thanks for the great info and freebie!

  • Grade School Giggles November 19, 2012 at 3:34 am

    I can remember doing this as an elementary school student. It's gross, but fun and educational. Thanks for sharing the freebie. I'm pinning this post on my science board.
    Grade School Giggles

  • Chrissy November 19, 2012 at 3:45 am

    First, you totally made my day! Thank you for stopping by my blog today!

    I've never dissected owl pellets, but I've seen them. VERY interesting! My favorite science activities involve ice and crystals. I'm looking forward to January!

  • Ms.M November 19, 2012 at 4:33 am

    Oh that is such a wonderful site. We don't dissect owl pellets and truth is I do think "ew" but I love the option of doing it on the net. Fab as always.

  • Molly November 19, 2012 at 6:54 am

    This is perfect! Thank you so much for sharing this site and your adorable paper to accompany it!! I have been wanting to do owl pellets with my class for a while. I remember doing it when I was in 7th grade and it was so much fun! Although after reading the comments, I don't remember it spelling badly or being so messy! haha I still want to give it a try though! I'm excited to see how your actual dissections turn out!


  • The Science Penguin November 19, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    Cool! I love dissecting owl pellets with my kiddos. Their personalities always come out, but I've never had a kid who didn't participate or one that didn't think it was awesome! 🙂

    The Science Penguin

  • Beach Lovin' Teach November 19, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    I just did owl pellets last week with my fourth graders and posted about it. Since we are learning about the scientific method, I created a sheet for them to become familiar with the process during the owl pellet experiment. I uploaded it free to my TPT so I'll link to that post it if you want to check it out. Have fun with the owl pellets!

    Beach Lovin' Teach

  • Shawna November 19, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    Hi Kristen,
    Thanks for the site info! I was just stopping by to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!

    The Picture Book Teacher's Edition

  • Gina Coniglio November 20, 2012 at 12:36 am

    Owl pellets are awesome! We did them on Halloween. We had an owl themed day after our parade and this was part of it. My 3rd graders LOVED it!!! They could have picked through those things all day! After they found all the bones we glued them on black paper. It's very cool. I blogged about it. I love the sheet you created! Thanks!
    Beach Sand and Lesson Plans

  • Kristin November 20, 2012 at 3:13 am

    I'm wondering if I can tweak this for first grade because I'm super intrigued!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Your kiddos are so lucky to have you!!
    Kristen, I'm thankful for you and all of your support and for always stopping by my blog!
    Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Heather (TeacherBug) November 20, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    I've done this with my 4th graders many time and they LOVE it. I always make sure I cover their tables with newspaper and give them rubber gloves and toothpicks (that way they don't actually have to touch it!).
    Also, just an FYI, there is a really cool iPad app to virtually dissect owl pellets as well!

  • ~Stephanie November 20, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    That is really cool Kristen. To be honest, the owl pellets gross me out so much that I steer clear of them. This might be the way to go!

    Teaching in Room 6

  • Kelly November 21, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    That is a really neat site. Since I teach 1st, I passed the info to my daughter's 4th grade teacher. Thanks for the info!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Kelly @ I'm Not Your Grandpa, I'm Your Teacher

  • Anonymous November 22, 2012 at 11:12 pm

    I do this every year when we talk about food chains and food webs. Thanks for sharing the website. There is a picture book that goes along with owl pellets. It is called White Owl, Barn Owl.

  • Lena L. November 23, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    Hi, Kristen! I love your website! I've been searching the Internet for ideas to incorporate in my Owl Pellet unit. I'm a sixth grade science teacher. I've dissected owl pellets when I was a fourth grade teacher in another district, but would like to go more in depth with my sixth graders in my current school district. I assigned a persuasive writing element for the students to convince me to dissect owl pellets with them. Some students have seen owl pellets in a museum or on a field trip during a scouting trip, but only for a few minutes. I wanted them to tell me what the benefits would be to dissect owl pellet, in addition to observing the bones, and to study the owl, it's prey and the bones. Once they "persuaded" me, I began with introducing them to the owl with an "Owl Dissection HD" App using our new iPads (we have 6 per classroom). I made a worksheet to go with the videos of the owlette, fledgling and adult owls which related to our Chapter 1 "Populations and Communities" vocabulary. Then, they watched and episode of "Dirty Jobs" by Mike Rowe called "Owl Vomit Collector" which explained the owl pellet's journey from nature to the classroom (I also made a worksheet to go with this). Then we began our dissection. We are now at the point where it's time to identify the prey by identifying the skeleton bones. In addition to this, I will have the students also compare the prey skeleton bones to the human skeleton bones, since some of the names and shape of the bones are similar. I think the students will find this very interesting because I did. Next, the students will construct the skeleton by gluing the bones on construction paper and placing them in a Pringles potato chip can to display (similar to a diorama). The outside of the can may be decorated like an owl. Another idea I had was to build a 3-D stand-up model of the prey with the skeleton bones. I was thinking of doing this with a material similar to Play-doh called Model Magic. This material is softer and lighter than Play-doh and doesn't get dry. We could glue the bones onto the Model Magic. This seems like it would work, in theory, but I'm not sure it would be practical. (I found black and Glow-in-the-Dark Model Magic!) We'll see. Next, we'll go back to the iPad to enter the data related to our Bone Identification. Our data will be averaged into a database across America. Then we can see the results and graph the information to incorporate a Mathematical lesson, as well. As our final demonstration of all the knowledge that the students have learned about populations, communities, owls, adaptations, predator, prey, abiotic, biotic, food webs, etc. we are still searching for an App that will allow us to incorporate video, photographs, music, voice overs, etc. So far we have looked into Animoto,, (iMovie and similar Apps)… My class will be partnering up with a special ed. class to be "lab partners" and will mentor / assist the students with this lab in a couple of weeks, as well. Everyone is absolutely loving every experience that we are having with this unit!!!! Students, teachers, parents and administrators!!!!! I'll check in with your Blog when we are finished. PS When I was shopping around for owl pellets, last year, I did come across a website that did donate owl pellets. They were very generous, but the pellets were smaller than the ones that our Department decided to order, this year. Just an FYI. Good luck with your dissection!!!! Thank-you so much for your inspiration, creative website and generosity in sharing your wonderful teaching ideas!!!!! It's a gift for all educators!!!! (Please excuse any typos or misspellings.) If you have any questions, please let me know:

  • Caryn January 6, 2013 at 11:34 pm

    We decided to do our owl pellet dissection on Halloween, AFTER the parade, party, sugar-rush etc. It was the perfect way to keep their minds off of trick-or-treating. Thank you for sharing your files!

  • Sue Cahalane February 17, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    Hi Kristen! I started using Perfect Pellets from Fisher Scientific – they're great! There is a complete PLASTIC skeleton in every owl pellet. They look exactly like real owl pellets but they are not real, Fisher makes them in their labs. Less mess, no smell, less confusing skeletal parts all over the place! My students love this lab! I just started my science teacher blog, stop by if you get a chance, I'll be posting everything we do in lab!
    I love your blog, your tutorials are fantastic!
    Science for Kids Blog

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